Archive for the 'Religion' Category



Chris Murphy On The Second Amendment

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 2 days ago

Breitbart:

The CT Post quoted Murphy saying:

In an era where anti-government positioning is a hallmark of the modern right, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that increasingly Republicans are absolutist in their views on the right of citizens to own guns. They want to preserve the right of revolution as a means of showing how much they truly hate the current government, administered by President Barack Obama.

Interestingly, Murphy has been bashing claims that gun rights are “God-given” for some time; this is not a new issue for him. In fact, when the Senate rejected new gun controls in the wake of the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, an angry Murphy reacted by assuring Second Amendment supporters that gun rights were not “God-given.” He told MSBNC’s Rachel Maddow, “The Second Amendment is not an absolute right, not a God-given right. It has always had conditions upon it like the First Amendment has.”

Breitbart is a strange animal indeed.  They have Milo Yiannopoulos as an editor, who wouldn’t have anything to do with claiming that rights of any sort are granted by God, but then they will post an article like this basing the right to own firearms on God’s law.  They can’t have it both ways.

It’s easy for me, and hard for them (or easy if they don’t care about logical consistency).  Murphy is confused, or simply a disbeliever in God.  God doesn’t simply grant the right of self defense to men, He commands it as a duty.  It is based on the Decalogue, and since that is based on His character, it is immutable.

The right of revolution doesn’t exists as some sort of perfunctory statement about how we feel about our current government, and Murphy is only saying that to insult men who believe in the second amendment.  The right of revolution is based on covenant law, eternal contracts, and the basis for this is to be found directly in the Holy writ.  It applies to all men, everywhere and in all times and epochs based on violations of agreements to live together under stipulations and within strict boundary conditions.  When the covenant is broken, it is no longer valid.

Jeff Knox On Armed Worship

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago

Jeff Knox writing at Liberty News Now has a good article on armed worship. well worth your time.  Anything Jeff Knox writes is well worth your time.  Jeff advocates going armed for self defense and defense of others, but then there is this.

There is also the issue of interfering with the worship of others. Right or wrong, justified or not, many people are simply uncomfortable around guns. If they become aware that someone in the worship service is armed, it could distract them from their worship. Not being sensitive to these folks’ feelings would be inconsiderate and could be a violation of scriptural guidance. The apostle Paul exhorts Christians to avoid things which might cause a brother to stumble, but of course, that can be a difficult proposition when dealing with people with irrational fears

Jeff’s closing paragraph is nice, but the one above bothers me.  Jeff is referring to 1 Corinthians 8:9, and this verse has been take to mean virtually anything.  Take for instance the consumption of alcohol.  If it causes you brother to stumble, the saying goes, you must give it up.

But what about that big house some folks have?  Is that a stumbling block for some?  Very well, sell it.  How about the lack of having a large home, since we are to work in order to have something to those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28), and those we entertain might even be angels (Hebrews 13:2)?  You see, what may be a stumbling block for someone may in fact be the opposite for someone else.

The point is that this isn’t logically sustainable.  Men aren’t required to give up what the Scriptures allow.  Putting a stumbling block in another man’s path might be something like inviting an alcoholic into your home and offering up corn liquor to him.

We needn’t interpret the passage the way Jeff seems to be doing here, and I won’t ever give up carrying a weapon to worship just because it makes somebody uncomfortable to know that I’m doing it.  As I’ve said far too many times to count, carry a gun to worship.  You might just save someone’s life.  In either case, you are obeying the Biblical command to be prepared to defend a life which is made in God’s image.

Irrational Christian Bias Against Guns, Violence And Self Defense

BY Herschel Smith
4 months, 1 week ago

Several examples of Christians opposing all violence and means of self defense have been in the news lately, and I can’t deal with all such examples.  But three particular examples come to mind, and I first want to show you one example from Mr. Robert Schenck in a ridiculously titled article, Christ or a Glock.

“Well, first of all you’re making an immediate decision that if someone invades your home, they are going to die,” Rev. Schenck replied. “So you are ready to kill another human being in your home. That brings about a big ethical question for the Christian. And we’re told in the Bible, we’re even to love our enemies.”

“Even a potential intruder? Someone who’s been coming into your home to hurt you?”

“Absolutely. Is it always God’s will that I survive a violent confrontation with another human being? I’m not sure that’s always God’s will.”

Before we address this tangled web of confusion, let’s bring up another example from Mr. Benjamin Corey who has a commentary up at Patheos entitled The Serious Problems With Using Ecclesiastes 3 To Justify Christian Support Of War & Violence.

thought I had addressed all of the counter arguments over the years, but a new one is emerging and being used more and more frequently: the use of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 to justify the Christian’s support of war and violence.

[ … ]

So, here’s how this is starting to be used in Christian discussions about guns, war, and violence: When Christian A puts forth the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, Christian B retorts by posting this passage in reply. The inferred argument is, “Jesus couldn’t have really meant that, because Ecclesiastes says there’s a time to kill and a time for war.”

First, it ignores Jesus! The act of rebutting Jesus using other passages of Scripture should be a major red flag in the mind of any believer. If Jesus is the living Word of God and the Wisdom of God, then we begin with what Jesus taught us. This is what makes us Christians instead of Biblicists– we follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior. When one rejects the face value teaching and example of Christ in favor of other passages or people in Scripture, it’s a good indication that such a person may like Jesus the Savior but not Jesus the Lord– and unfortunately, this thing is a package deal.

Let’s expand on Benjamin’s views on guns in a previous commentary entitled Some Serious Questions I Have For All Those Good Guys With Guns.

So, you’re a good guy with a gun. I get it. I’ve seen the bumper sticker, heard the slogan a million times, and I even used to be one of you. I’m retired military, was an expert marksman, and was even awarded the Bronze Schützenschnur by the German army.

I was a bonafide good guy with a gun for most of my adult life thus far. But even in my most pro-gun days, the entire American motif of a good guy with a gun made me ask some hard questions– and left me feeling less and less comfortable with the whole concept.

I appreciate the basic sentiment of it all, really. I want my family to live in safety as well, and my desire-meter ranks precisely zero for how badly I’d like to die while standing in line at the deli.

However, this idea that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is really over-simplified. In fact, I think it is dangerously over-simplified and should really invite some hard questions for those would-be good guys with guns.

The first question this invites is, where will you keep it? Studies show that the presence of a gun in the home increases the likelihood that someone will get shot. Further, we have a growing problem in America of toddlers shooting people with guns they stumble upon. Will you at least keep it locked up in a gun safe where kids can’t access it?

I hope you’ll be that reasonable. But, if you do keep it locked up in a safe because you don’t want your kids getting their hands on it, that invites another question: What good would that do you in an emergency? I mean, having it inconveniently out of reach under lock and key sorta defeats the entire point, no?

But let’s say you resolve that issue– perhaps you’ll be one of those good guys with a gun who carries it everywhere. You strap it safely to your hip, have a hollow point in the chamber, and you’re locked and loaded. That too invites a whole additional line of questioning.

Perhaps the biggest question it invites is this: What qualifies you to be a good guy with a gun who is ready to end a human life at a moment’s notice? Is there some special qualification, or is the mere fact that you think highly of your personal character all the qualification you need?

Some states (like my home state of Maine) require no training at all to be a good guy with a concealed gun, while others require some sort of basic gun safety training. Let’s say you took one of these basic courses: Does a few hours or even a few days of training qualify you to be making life or death decisions in a split second while shopping in Walmart?

If it does, why do the military and law enforcement constantly train? Why not give our professional good guys a few hours of training on a Saturday, hand them a gun, and call it good?

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a moment, and consider that you’re an expert on gun safety and an expert marksman. That still leaves a bigger question: Have you taken “kill or no kill” training? Like, lots and lots of it where you decide if someone lives or dies, on the spot and in less than a second? Because that’s what you’ll have to do in real life as a good guy with a gun.

It’s one thing to be a decent person who owns a gun and is trained on the mechanics of how to use it, but what about split-second judgement calls when a human life is in the balance? This is why professional arms bearers repeatedly take kill or no kill training– it’s not enough to be ready to shoot, one needs to have the ability to decide if to shoot at all.

Let me ask you a hypothetical: let’s say you’re standing in the movie isle at Walmart and you hear gunfire and people screaming. You quickly remember that you’re a good guy with a gun, so you draw your weapon and run to the end of the isle. Once you get there, you see a guy with his own gun drawn, and is pointing it in the opposite direction as you.

Do you kill him while you have a clean shot?

Oh my.  The confusion with Benjamin is neck deep, and it’s going to take some time and effort to sort this out.  Before we begin, I know that I have a number of readers who aren’t Christians.  That’s great, and I’m happy to host you in my small and humble home.  This may be a bit boring to you, but you should care anyway.  Men like this not only influence public policy, but they effectively disarm much of the Christian public with their advocacy, this disarming have the effect of making them vulnerable to literally anyone who comes along armed.  Witness the kidnapping of those poor girls at the hands of Boko Haram, or the extinction of Christianity in Mesopotamia, a sad but gradual catastrophe I have watched ever since OIF began.  A large segment of the population that cannot defend themselves is of concern to you, whether you are a Christian or not.  And if you hang on with me, you’ll learn some things about what Jesus thought of unbiblical laws banning weapons.  With that said, let’s begin.

Mr. Schenck says, following Christ, to “love your enemies,” and asserts that this is a big “ethical question” during a home invasion.  Next, without any exegesis or explanation fleshing this out, another leaky bucket is put with the first one, where Mr. Schenk invokes the will of God.  “Is it always God’s will that I survive a violent confrontation with another human being? I’m not sure that’s always God’s will,” he says.  Here Mr. Schenck has said too much and destroyed his own argument, and it will require some explanation to explain what I mean.

Mr. Schenck is acting like a Calvinist, but I seriously doubt he has the deep and abiding commitment to Calvinian theology that I do.  Mr. Schenck is relying on ignorance of the masses for the force of his argument.  Classic Calvinian theology divides the will of God into two distinct categories: (1) preceptive, and (2) decretive.  God’s preceptive will pertains to His precepts, His laws.  What does God wish to happen, or how does He wish mankind to live?  The second category pertains to His decretive will, or what He has decreed to come to pass.

Isaiah 46:10 says “I am God and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ ” (Isaiah 46:9-10).  Ephesians 1:11 says ” … having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”  Again, all things.  This suffices for many hundreds of passages that teach the same thing.  God decrees, and no one stays His hand.

Furthermore, He tells us that the later category is not only unknown to us, it is off limits.  Deuteronomy 29:29 says “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”  We are responsible for knowing and obeying His law, not the outcome, nor the flow of times and epochs that result from our choices and actions.  That’s in God’s hands, and we are not to question it.

Mr. Schenck is questioning God’s decretive will, apparently in need of knowing it so that he can attempt to effect it.  But it makes no difference.  Mr. Schenck can no more bring it to pass nor prevent it from coming to pass than he can move the moon or keep it from moving.  And we have just said that it is none of his business anyway.  Mr. Schenck is either a poorly informed and badly educated Calvinist, or he invoked the doctrines of God’s will in an attempt to confuse people, or merely as another objection to self defense.  I suspect it’s the later rather than the former.

In either case, we’re left with only his first objection, his notion that Jesus was a pacifist, Bohemian hippie flower child.  But he has supplied no exegesis of Matthew 5:44 to make us think that Jesus intends for us to allow others to kill us in His name.  In fact, the problem lies not in the words of Jesus (who was dealing with personal grievances, not public threats, see here John Gill’s and Matthew Poole’s exposition), but rather Mr. Schenck’s lack of hermeneutical self-discipline.

The Holy writ is a unity, with Christ as the scarlet thread running throughout.  The words of the O.T. are no more in contradiction with Christ than the balance of the N.T.  There is progressive revelation and development of the covenant, but there isn’t any embarrassing contradiction.  We needn’t turn to obscure passages or tangential concerns to justify Biblical self defense.  As we’ve noted before, the basis for it is found in the Decalogue.

I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying.  As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue.  Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.

God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless.  “Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.”  I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.

And concerning John Calvin’s comments on this subject:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

If you’re willing to sacrifice the safety and health of your wife or children to the evils of abuse, kidnapping, sexual predation or death, God isn’t impressed with your fake morality.  Capable of stopping it and choosing not to, you’re no better than a child molester, and I wouldn’t allow you even to be around my grandchildren.

Turning now to Benjamin, the confusion becomes even more chaotic with less hermeneutical self-discipline.  First of all, he’s tried to tackle too much.  Without going into the details of his argument, Professor Darrell Cole has written a very good article at First Things entitled Good Wars.  His closing paragraph summarizes his thesis.

The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches (contrary to today’s prevailing views) that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.

If Robert or Benjamin haven’t interacted with Cole’s analysis, you may safely ignore what they have to say on this issue.  They haven’t really tackled the hard issues yet or dealt honestly with violence, federal headship or the fallen state of mankind.  To that extent, their exposition is cowardly.  It never helps your case to beat up on straw men or weaklings.  You have to step into the back yard and run with the big dogs before people will respect you.

Second, Benjamin acts as if the only justification for violence is found in Ecclesiastes 3.  I’ve never even seen such an argument in print, and I certainly wouldn’t make it (not from the so-called “wisdom literature” of Scripture).  But beating up on Ecclesiastes 3 doesn’t justify his next move, which is to disconnect the balance of Scripture from the person and teachings of Christ.  He says “If Jesus is the living Word of God and the Wisdom of God, then we begin with what Jesus taught us. This is what makes us Christians instead of Biblicists– we follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior. When one rejects the face value teaching and example of Christ in favor of other passages or people in Scripture, it’s a good indication that such a person may like Jesus the Savior but not Jesus the Lord– and unfortunately, this thing is a package deal.”

That’s right, Benjamin.  It’s a package deal, and I have no need of setting one passage off against another because I follow the commonly accepted rules of Biblical hermeneutics.  It’s a package deal, and that means I see all of Scripture as a whole, with progressive revelation, development of the covenants, unity of purpose, and divine sanction and inspiration of the authors.  For the best study on this, see Inerrancy, edited by Norman L. Geisler.  I have no need of ignoring Jesus’ words – in fact, I cherish every one of them.  I just make sure to appropriately understand and contextualize them.

For the third example, as for the oft-quoted Luke 22:36, Preston Sprinkle dismisses this passage out of hand as justifying anything at all, to the point that he doesn’t even interact with this passage.  He continues his missive, and I have to say that I’m not at all impressed by his “scholarship.”  He doesn’t any more honestly deal with issues than the two authors we’ve already examined.  I find his snarky manner very off-putting, and his lack of honesty in dealing with the Scriptural data very revealing.

But regarding his dismissal of Luke 22:36, which I presume he treats as some sort of spiritualized metaphor, remember that Christ wasn’t just commanding His disciples to get swords (for the purpose of self defense, or the purpose of ensuring that they would later be guilty of breaking the law, or whatever, it doesn’t matter).  He was commanding that his disciples become criminals.  It was against the law for them to have those swords.  “During the Roman occupation of Judea, Jews were forbidden to own swords, spears or any implements of war.”  Jesus commanded them to ignore laws controlling weapons.  While I reject the theological approach taken by Dr. Martin at Yale University, he has supplied us with good data on this question.

… for some evidence, see Digest 48.6.1: collecting weapons ‘beyond those customary for hunting or for a journey by land or sea’ is forbidden; 48.6.3.1 forbids a man ‘of full age’ appearing in public with a weapon (telum) (references and translation are from Mommsen 1985). See also Mommsen 1899: 564 n. 2; 657-58 n. 1; and Linderski 2007: 102-103 (though he cites only Mommsen). Other laws from the same context of the Digest sometimes cited in this regard are not as worthwhile for my purposes because they seem to be forbidding the possession of weapons with criminal intent. But for the outright forbidding of being armed while in public in Rome, see Cicero’s letter to his brother relating an incident in Rome in which a man, who is apparently falsely accused of plotting an assassination, is nonetheless arrested merely for having confessed to having been armed with a dagger while in the city: To Atticus, Letter 44 (II.24). See also Cicero, Philippics 5.6 (§17). Finally we may cite a letter that Synesius of Cyrene wrote to his brother, probably sometime around the year 400 ce. The brother had apparently questioned the legality of Synesius having his household produce weapons to defend themselves against marauding bands. Synesius points out that there are no Roman legions anywhere near for protection, but he seems reluctantly to admit that he is engaged in an illegal act (Letter 107; for English trans., see Fitzgerald 1926).

Christ commanded them to possess and bear arms, even in violation of the law.  This is a fact, and no amount of spiritualizing, Scripture twisting or hermeneutical machinations can get around it.

If we have learned absolutely nothing – and I do mean absolutely nothing – of any import or value on the Scriptural data concerning violence or self defense from the three authors cited here, it seems that it’s time to move on to the mundane and trivial.  Benjamin wants to know all about how we keep our guns.  But here I find my own attention floating to something else, i.e., how Benjamin parks his cars, where he does so, whether they are put into a safe condition when he isn’t around them, where he keeps his keys, how well he controls the kitchen knives, cleaners, soap, gasoline for power tools, electrical outlet covers, and cabinet locks, and whether all of his circuits are up to current code with GFCIs in the bathrooms, garage, porches and other places they need to be?

In fact, I’m wondering how I know that Benjamin is actually qualified to be a husband and father?  But this sort of meddlesome, control freak, brooding mother hen, nanny mentality tires me and seems repulsive and grody, so I think I’ll just leave it to Benjamin seeing that it’s none of my business anyway.  Grok that, Benjamin?

As for this notion that cops receive all of this ninja warrior training, it just isn’t so.  One friend who recently retired as captain of one of the largest police departments in America, told me that most gun owners’ self training far exceeded what most cops get, mostly who just qualify on the range once a year and then never unholster their weapons after that (thankfully).  Otherwise, we would have no answer for all of those examples of stupidity, overreaction, dead dogs, negligent discharges, fellow officer shootings, hundreds of rounds discharged in rolling gun battles inside the inner city, and SWAT raids gone bad.  You see Benjamin, if we civilians unholster our weapons, we’re charged with brandishing and we get to talk to a judge and get our rights taken away.  If we point our weapons at someone, it’s called assault with a deadly weapon (which includes perceived intent), and we get to go to prison for an extended stay.  When the LEOs do it, it’s called being “heroes of the community.”  Perhaps, Benjamin, when you pose your shoot / no-shoot scenario, you should be talking to LEOs.

It doesn’t take an experienced law enforcement professional to know that ordinary folks with weapons can and do save lives, every day, all over the world.  That’s not the problem or the question.  You see, by invoking the police, Benjamin has said too much.  He isn’t really a pacifist, he doesn’t really want to perish at the hands of criminals, and he doesn’t really take the teachings of Christ as seriously as he claims.  He just believes in the same thing all progressives do – monopoly of force.  The ugly little truth of progressives, including Christians who have progressive tendencies, is that they haven’t yet been able to turn away from the state as savior and protector, judge and jury, lawyer and arbiter.  They are statists, and their reflexive tendency is to attempt to reconcile their statism with the Holy writ.  To them the state is supreme – otherwise they wouldn’t believe in a monopoly of force.  The real Scripture twisting is done by them, not the millions of Christians around the world who either know better and dismiss their antics as misguided or who are [unfortunately] misled by them.

There are many more steps in this process, including pointing out that the American revolution has its roots in the covenant theology of continental Calvinism (taught by my former professor Douglas Kelly), and that thousands of pastors fought in the war of independence.  For now it is enough to observe that the objections the detractors offer up are like ten leaky buckets.  All of them leak, and putting ten of them together no more ensures that you have a viable container than a single leaky bucket.  They float from one idea to the next, and don’t seem to spend any time on core objections because that tactic doesn’t work and they know it.  They haphazardly throw everything up but the kitchen sink, hoping something will stick.  Quantity is favored over quality because none of the objections are compelling.

They hope something will stick not because of the Biblical data on self defense, gun ownership and war, but because of the philosophical presuppositions they bring to their study of the Scriptures.  Unless this issue is honestly addressed, their prose will not be honest.

UPDATE: Thanks to WoG, SSI and WRSA for the links.

Prior:

Philosophizing With Guns

Guns In Church In Mississippi

A Touching And Heartwarming Story Of Violence And Revolution

Jihadist Shooter Was Going To Target A Church

Pistol-Packin’ Christians

The Idolatry Of Security

They Believe The Angels Will Protect Us

Woe To The Nation Whose Religious Teachers Have Become Workers Of Wickedness

Should Christians Own Guns?

A Desperate Cry From Iraq’s Christians

The PCUSA On Guns

Dear Christians With Guns

Concerning The Nigerian Christian Girls

Guns: Think Of The Children

Does Jesus Shoot An AR-15?

Baptist Forum Does Gun Control

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

The Golden Calf Of Gun Control

Faith And Firearms

Guns And Religion

When Christians Discuss Guns

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

From Whence Cometh My Liberty?

BY Herschel Smith
5 months ago

At WRSA there is an interesting discussion on the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Here is a snippet.

I recognized that, despite the cries of today’s Constitutionalists about the Divine inspiration of the US Constitution and the accompanying Bill of Rights (USC/BoR), both of the foundational documents of American governance were drafted by mere humans based on the political accommodations necessary at the time (e.g., chattel slavery) and had no effective provisions for enforcement when violated.

I realized that, even if one does not fully accept the “intentionally fraudulent from the beginning” premise of Royce’s Hologram of Liberty, the institutions established by the USC/BoR have failed in preserving individual freedom and American sovereignty.

 

It should be remembered what John Adams said to us.  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  The only perfect text is the Holy Writ because it has both human and divine authorship – no text that is exclusively human can be free of flaw.  But that isn’t the problem with failure to preserve our liberties.  The problem comes from the heart of man.

It’s called federal headship [of Adam] and original sin, and it extends to every man, woman and child, to every corner of the globe, and to every part of the moral and physical constitution of mankind.  Take for example the second amendment.  We’ve discussed before how “The second amendment discusses the right to bear arms and be free of federal interference in the context of the states’ desire to keep that interference from happening.  That is the historical milieu in which it was written.  The founders only needed one excuse to prevent federal government interference with the states on firearms, and they chose the most likely and obvious choice, i.e., the militia.  The second amendment is not a treatise on the foundation of liberty.

It’s an illogical jump to cast that as the only reason for the right to own and bear arms.  If you had discussed regulation on the right to own and use a tool of their trade to protect their families, hunt, and ameliorate tyranny with a colonial man, he would have buried you under the remotest prison.  God gave us our rights based on man being created in His image and the expected duty to work and subdue the earth to His glory.  The militia was a convenient excuse for a certain clause in one part of the constitution.  Limiting our rights to our understanding of that clause is a mistake.”

As elaborated by one commenter, “All the rights in the BoR are subsidiary, or appurtenant, rights. That is, appurtenant to the fundamental rights of Life, Liberty, and Property. The 2d Amdt is an agreement as to the practical, real-world way in which a people protects its fundamental rights, and which any just government must guarantee if the citizenry’s fundamental rights are to be protected.

It could be worded a thousand different ways (and the 2d always seemed poorly worded), but the underlying fundamental rights — and the necessity of a practical means of ensuring them — does not depend on the wording, nor upon whether there is any wording at all.  The rights exist. They cannot be overridden, taken, bargained away, or lost … especially not by appeal to legal or linguistic “precedent.”

Yes, but why?  I no longer appeal to anything in the constitution for my rights, as readers might be able to tell (or if I do, the appeal is short and for the purpose of connection with my readers).  I see the constitution as a covenant, with attendant rights, responsibilities and punishments.  Surely, if all parties are in collusion with the wickedness, there is no punishment for violation of the provisions of the constitution.

But the furniture is there to effect such punishments, e.g., impeachment, withholding of funding, and corporal punishments up to and including imprisonment and death.  The college of gargoyles, demons and pit vipers inside the beltway won’t hold anyone accountable because many of them are part of the problem.  The neutered politicians at the state and county level won’t because they have rendered themselves eunuchs by choice.

So the furniture is there, the volition is absent.  Our constitution is intended only for a moral and religious people.  It cannot function for any other.  And if you are one of those individuals who wants to find moral absolutes, framework for society, and rules upon which you can entrust your future in any document written by mankind, or any system of ethics absent God, your project is doomed to abject failure, just as Bertrand Russell couldn’t establish morality without God in his debate with Frederick Coppleston, or Gordon Stein in his debate with Greg Bahnsen.

One writer editorialized about the second amendment (in Heller) that “there was never any risk of the court adopting the gun movement’s more exotic premises, such as the notion that gun rights are “God-given,” a view handed down by National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre in his colorful sermons.”  I don’t know anything about sermons by Wayne, or NRA position papers on this topic, nor do I really need to know any of that.  The interesting thing about this writer is that he considers the notion that our rights are God-given to be exotic.

To the post-modern pawn, the constitution is as good as anything else given that appeal to the masses based on the emotion of the moment will certainly bring random ethics to bear.  They may as well twist the words of the agreement (constitution) to mean what they want them to mean – that way, at least they have a chance of winning.  But to those whose God is the Lord, it’s much clearer given that the only sovereign has declared beforehand the boundaries, times and epochs of His creatures.

Men must decide how they will live together.  If their eyes are firmly fixed on God, they will endeavor to live together in peace and liberty.  To the degree to which they worship themselves, no paper or parchment can save man, regardless of the provisions contained therein.

Self defense isn’t just a responsibility, it’s a duty based on the image of God in man.  This self defense doesn’t stop with personal safety, but extends to family safety and even further.  There is nothing natural about rights, and the foundation of liberty itself is based on the God of the bible.

The reference to “natural laws” and what nature may teach us is quaint and amusing, but philosophically outdated and meaningless.  Nature confers upon us nothing, and certainly not rights of any sort.  What may be obvious to us is contrary to the pronouncements of others who look at the same “nature.”  To John Dewey, John Stuart Mill and in more drastic form the communists, whatever works the best and achieves the greatest good for the greatest number is “good” (whatever that means).

But under this rubric many men and women have perished, a fact that is acceptable to the communists.  Under this rubric many millions of unborn infants in America have also perished, a fact that is wholly acceptable to the pragmatists and utilitarians.  The tribes in Ethiopia engaged in the practice of killing healthy baby boys whose top teeth came in before his bottom teeth.

America has for a long time found acceptable the idea of theft through taxation and inflation (both of which steal wealth), because that’s what the majority say.  If one turns to “nature” for values, whatever that means, perhaps the best source for ethics and morality would be watching male lions kill the cubs of females so that they come into estrus, or watching other animals as they steal kills.  Again to emphasize the point, nature cannot reveal a system of laws and turning to natural law means that you haven’t thought things through.

For those who have taken courses in apologetics or philosophy (and also for those who haven’t), a world view requires a system of categories working together, including metaphysics, ontology, ethics, epistemology, and so forth.  All of it is usually seen to be based on epistemology, as that category of philosophy describes and explains your source of truth.

It also requires that you posit your presuppositions beforehand.  Arguing that you want “reason” instead of “faith” belies ignorance (and the failure to take courses in math and philosophy).  Recalling the advice of Gordon H. Clark, you need to take a class in geometry.  All logic is governed by rules of deduction, but based on presupposition, axiomatic irreducibles.  If it can be demonstrated it is a pronouncement of your syllogism, not a presupposition.

With the right presuppositions you can demonstrate that the moon is made of green cheese.  You must state yours, and we get to examine them, along with your syllogisms.  What is your source of truth?  You see, these things are necessary before your system can amount to anything.  Otherwise, you’re an infant trying to read a calculus textbook.

Politics is ethics.  It is part of a larger system of philosophy, and it cannot be posited in a vacuum without being void of compelling argument.  You must explain how you know what you know in order for us to judge it, and all of your system must show itself to be consistent with the rest.  This is what philosopher Gordon H. Clark shows so well in “Religion, Reason and Revelation.”

I’m not disappointed in the founders, and I don’t think they intended failure of the republic.  I know that mankind is fallen, and that covenants must be enforced at points in history, that is, the punishments of the covenant.  The founders knew it too, and in fact if you read them carefully, they used their covenants with the King to justify their actions, legally speaking, but philosophically they appealed elsewhere.

If your appeal for liberty is to the constitution, you’re robbing yourself of the surety and certainty that comes from knowing the truth, denuding yourself of the very cloak of righteousness you will need to move forward in uncertain times.

Philosophizing With Guns

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago

NYT:

In a matter of months, the offices, libraries and classrooms where I work, study and teach at the University of Texas at Austin will become “concealed carry zones” — areas in which people with concealed handgun licenses may carry their weapons. The “campus carry” bill that brought about this situation represents a 50th anniversary gift of sorts from Texas state legislators. For when the law comes into effect on August 1, it will be 50 years to the day since a heavily armed young man ascended the clock tower on campus and shot 45 people, killing 14 of them, in the first mass shooting at an American college.

Following the signing of the bill into law last June, university administrators began to carve my daily environment into armed and unarmed zones: Guns in classrooms? Yes. Guns at sporting events? No. Appalled by this spectacle, I proceeded to do the two things that I have been trained to do as a philosopher: I debated with my colleagues and I wrote a critical essay. Then, having had my little scream into the abyss, I experienced a period of peace.

But now, as August 1 approaches, I find myself drawn back to the problems, both practical and philosophical, that are posed by campus carry. It seems to me that if we care about the future of American education, we must inquire after those things of value that stand at risk on armed campuses. The campus carry bill is, after all, not a peculiarly Texan piece of legislation. It has precedent in other states and, given the political climate, may be emulated elsewhere.

Much of the debate around campus carry has focused on physical risk — on the enhanced likelihood of suicide, domestic violence, assault or accidental discharge. Indeed, it was advice concerning the risk of accidental discharge that persuaded university administrators that it would be better to have students wear their guns into classrooms than to have them deposit them in lockers outside. The working group assigned by the president of our university with the task of providing recommendations about the implementation of campus carry determined that: “A policy that increases the number of instances in which a handgun must be stored multiplies the danger of an accidental discharge.” So now, people who cannot be trusted to safely transfer their weapons to lockers will instead carry them into spaces of learning.

In order to assess the physical risks of campus carry, we must rely on quantitative studies. But as philosophers, my colleagues and I can speak to some of the less explicit threats that campus carry poses by turning to our own long tradition of the qualitative study of violence and its role in human affairs. Consider the classroom, for example. What happens to it when its occupants suspect that someone has brought a gun inside? Campus carry poses a threat to the classroom as a space of discourse and learning even if no concealed carrier ever discharges their gun.

In general, we do not feel apprehension about the presence of strong people in spaces reserved for intellectual debate (although we might in other contexts — a boxing ring, say, or a darkened alley), but we do feel apprehension about the presence of a gun. This is because the gun is not there to contribute to the debate. It exists primarily as a tool for killing and maiming. Its presence tacitly relates the threat of physical harm.

But the gun in the classroom also communicates the dehumanizing attitude to other human beings that belongs to the use of violence …

[ … ]

In addition to these relatively abstract considerations, there remains a need for more concrete philosophical work concerning campus carry — situated work that draws on gender, race and labor theory. We need to ask: What bodies are at greatest risk? What disproportionate harms might the law visit on people of color? What sorts of psychological and physical threats can employees be subjected to in the workplace? And what is the significance of this law for academic freedom?

Finally, those of us who teach on armed campuses will need to confront pedagogical problems. As a philosopher, I work with questions that are challenging, controversial and even upsetting. As a teacher of philosophy, I try to animate these questions for students, and to provide them with the critical tools to pursue independent inquiry.

And see, based on my own philosophy and apologetics course work, I thought philosophizing was supposed to be about epistemology, cosmology, logic and questions of world view.  When I think of philosophy, I think of men like Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Gordon Clark, and before them Frederick Copleston (you know, people who actually think and write about philosophy).

I see that the author’s criticism eventually devolves into issues of race and gender.  How sad.  The most helpless among her colleagues are women who are under threat of assault and rape.  Yet according to Ms. Gubler the mere policy against guns in the classroom (and by extension, a woman cannot carry from her class to her car because she cannot have one in the classroom) will prevent guns from being in the classroom.  Criminals will read and follow the policy – or perhaps she really does think about things, and knows that she cannot effect behavior with policies, and doesn’t care about her female colleagues after all.  Perhaps her tribute to issues of feminism are merely for academic credibility.  Same with race.

Well, we’ve dealt with the notion of man being made in God’s image, and that itself being not just justification for self defense but connoting duty to self preservation.  I seriously doubt that the author’s appeal to the dehumanizing attitude towards other humans will be an impressive argument for would-be criminals.  I recall a conversation I had one time with Dr. Richard Pratt on the issue of cognitive rest.  I doubt the author’s lectures will wake a criminal from his cognitive rest in the necessity of doing what he intends to do.  On the other hand, if you follow my advice, the criminal will be much more impressed.

As for Ms. Gubler, who is currently writing a dissertation on the role of forgiveness in secular ethics and public life, good luck with that.  Better philosophers (e.g., Bertrand Russell) were unsuccessful at developing ethics without God.  Russell is in hell now so he can’t tell her to adjust her thinking, and I don’t really believe in luck since I’m a Calvinist.  But readers already knew that.

Guns In Church In Mississippi

BY Herschel Smith
6 months ago

New York Magazine:

The Great State of Mississippi is offering an illustration of this principle as we speak with the march toward enactment of legislation to recognize a right of concealed-carry in churches. And the Republican salons, who are promoting the cause of honoring the Prince of Peace by insisting on the right to shoot and kill people right there in His sanctuary, are preemptively concerned that the godless socialists in Washington might interfere. So once again, they’ve gone back to that fine antebellum doctrine of nullification to deny the power of the Feds — or at least the executive branch — to regulate firearms at all.  The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has the story:

The bill would allow churches to create security programs and designate and train members to carry concealed weapons. It would provide criminal and legal protections to those serving as church security.

The bill also would allow concealed carry in a holster without a permit in Mississippi, expanding a measure passed last year that allowed concealed carry without a permit in a purse, satchel or briefcase, and another recent law that allows open carry in public.

The bill also seeks to prohibit Mississippi officials from enforcing any federal agency regulations or executive orders that would violate the state constitution — an attempt to federal gun restrictions not passed by Congress.

Senators argued whether this last provision would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Where did you go to law school?” Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, asked Tindell during the debate. “Are they telling people there that the Mississippi constitution trumps federal law?

[ … ]

It’s also entirely predictable that people who think the absence of guns is more dangerous than their omnipresence would extend the principle everywhere, even to bars and, yeah, churches. Beyond that, we see the ongoing radicalization of Second Amendment ultras who think gun rights are not just part of the Constitution but fundamental to it and superior to any other provision — in effect, an object of worship. At some point, the Second Amendment could run afoul of the Bible’s Second Commandment against raising up idols.

The author, Ed Kilgore, doesn’t really believe the things he has written, any more than the Kos kids do when they write things like this.  Here’s how you know.  He doesn’t argue for a prohibition of law enforcement from killing people who are themselves trying to kill people in churches.  In fact, he argues exactly the opposite in his first paragraph, when he says “Of all the cultural divides in these allegedly “United” States, probably none is more stark than the chasm in attitudes toward possession of lethal weaponry. There used to be a general consensus that deadly force should, generally speaking, be monopolized by police officers; possession of, say, a handgun in one’s home, was an exception in recognition of exceptional circumstances. Shooting irons for hunting were another thing, but those were reserved for occasions when one was, you know, out in the woods hunting.”

There’s that notion again about the state having a monopoly of force.  Except in this context, he goes too far for his argument and betrays his plot.  Since he argues for the state having a monopoly of force generally, he has no right to connect it to being in a house of worship and attempting to argue theologically that there shouldn’t be means of self defense in worship.  In other words, the author tries to place himself inside your system, if you’re a Christian, and argue from your perspective, but he taints his argument with the broad appeal to statism and a monopoly of force by the state.  He didn’t stay disciplined.  Rarely do writers stay disciplined when they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, a lazy version of the ten leaky buckets logical problem.

This is what happens when men pretend to be thinkers, try to enter systems they don’t believe, and convince others of world views outside their own when they give up before the end of their own arguments.  In the mean time, we have all been properly briefed on the theological basis for self defense, with worship being no different (man doesn’t suddenly cease being made in God’s image because he engages in worship).

On a related topic, I noticed that Reverend Franklin Graham told the Mohammedans that they would one day bow the knee to King Jesus.  True, that.  And they will confess with their mouths that their “prophet” is a sham and fraud before the Lord of Lords.  But in the mean time, Christians are being slaughtered across the globe because ignorant teachers have taught them that Jesus was a Bohemian hippie pacifist flower child who expects them to lay down and be walked on like rugs.  That’s what Kilgore believes about Christianity too.

Drink a good glass of wine tonight as a toast to a more robust and informed Christianity.  Remember Herschel’s Dictum: “There aren’t too many human interaction problems that can’t be fixed with a .45 ACP 230-grain fat-boy.”

A Touching And Heartwarming Story Of Violence And Revolution

BY Herschel Smith
7 months ago

I have certain incorrigible views of covenant and sovereignty that have their genesis in my Calvinian theology, and it is always interesting to observe and study how men relate to one another and to God.  But before we get to that, let’s begin with what’s happened in the narco-trafficking world.  This analysis promises to be lengthy and perhaps even tedious, so if you intend to make it through a sweeping panorama of violence, revolution and covenant, get a strong cup of coffee and a hard back chair.

There was a time, the story goes, when if a local collided with a drug trafficker’s car on the streets of Culiacán — a bastion of the infamous Sinaloa cartel — the narco was likely to hop out to check that everything was ok.

“They’d say: ‘If you have any problems call this doctor and I’ll pay,'” says journalist Javier Valdez, who specializes in delving into the entrails of drug trafficking culture in Sinaloa. “Not anymore. Now they’ll get out of the car with a pistol. Not only will they not pay you; they’ll beat you, threaten you, or kill you.”

Such tales of shifting mafia etiquette are part of the legend of the underworld in Sinaloa but, close observers like Valdez say, there is also truth to the idea that the newer generations rising up within the Sinaloa drug trafficking scene are more violent and impulsive. And none more so than the one emerging to take control right now.

Few in Culiacán dispute Chapo’s status as a ruthless and bloodthirsty operator, but many credit his generation of Sinaloa traffickers with ensuring the cartel is still considered less wholeheartedly exploitative and sadistic than some other Mexican groups, such as the Knights Templar or the Zetas. While the point is often overstated, the Sinaloa cartel leadership has traditionally limited the expansion of side-rackets, such as extortion and kidnapping, at least on its home turf.

[ … ]

At other times the cartel has prospered because Chapo and his peers have maintained strong relationships with the impoverished communities where they grew up, Valdez says. The writer also emphasized that such leaders have often shown themselves to be been smart enough to know when to negotiate with enemies, including rival cartels, politicians, state security forces, and even the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. This may not be the case, he says, with their more impetuous offspring.

“This generation does not have this sense of belonging, they’re more violent, more dangerous,” Valdez warns. “Their ascendency could put the stability of the cartel at risk.”

Those fears have proven true enough, as the current cadre of Hispanic and Latino crime lords have been known to behead, torture, and engage in inflicting pain and violence merely for the pleasure they see in it with no intended tactical advantage.  I have long said that I don’t believe in the war on drugs, but that without such a misinformed and misdirected campaign the cartels would still exist because they are warlords and shouldn’t be considered “drug” cartels per se.  Just as the Tehrik-e-Taliban engage in extortion, kidnapping, and mining of precious metals and gemstones, the Hispanic and Latino cartels aren’t restricted to drugs.

They have expanded into timber harvesting, and this has caused enough problems in one area of Mexico to catalyze the violent overthrow of the government and cartels altogether.

CHERÁN, MEXICO — Silently in the mountainous deep green of southwestern Mexico’s ancient pine and oak forests, volunteers armed with automatic weapons press forward on patrol.

They aren’t hunting insurgents or drug smugglers, common here in Michoacan state. And they aren’t part of any army. These self-appointed guardabosques — forest guards — are defending the land from illegal clear-cutting by regional organized crime cartels.

In doing so, they illustrate a determination not to succumb to despair in the face of violence — a commitment Pope Francis urged on Mexicans during a visit to Michoacan earlier this month.

Few people interviewed here last year would give their full names out of concern over retaliation. But they were undeterred nonetheless. Jacinto, from a neighboring village, explained what happened: “The trouble began in 2008. That’s when the federal officials came in with the gun registry lists and went house to house. They took our guns away.”

That disarmament effort, to which locals ascribe to nefarious motives, left them with only antiquated single-shot weapons for hunting vermin. These were of little use when the cartel loggers came over the mountain in 2010.

In his cowboy hat and black-and-white plaid shirt, Don Santiago, a 62-year-old wiry, soft-spoken resin farmer of the Purhépecha tribe, said organized criminal syndicates have entered into the large-scale forest destruction business. “We couldn’t go to the police,” he said. “The police were in the pay of the gangsters.”

The main criminal cartels in Michoacán are known as The Michoacán Family, known as La Familia for short, and the Knights Templars, or Templares.

Tension rose as the people of Cherán found their treasured forests being leveled closer to home. Huge, noisy lumber trucks tore through town to haul out the logs, seemingly around the clock. With police and elected officials unwilling to help, a small group of local women, led by a diminutive, five-foot firebrand affectionately known as Doña Chepa, rose up to take their forests back.

“The breaking point came on April 15, 2011,” said David, a big, animated Purhépecha tribesman. “It was Holy Week. The women came to stop the clear-cutters.”

About 15 women piled rocks on the roads as barricades. With the trucks immobilized, the women used rocks and fireworks to chase the cartel raiders away. A church bell clanged an alarm for citizen reinforcements. When the police arrived, the women directed their fireworks on them, pushing them back. “We surrounded all the exits to the town,” David said.

Nothing like this had happened before in Cherán. Energized locals directed their rage at the politicians who had done nothing to stop the deforestation. Armed with their obsolete hunting rifles and shotguns, families converged on the town center. Using one of the abandoned logging trucks as a battering ram, citizens stormed the town administration building and police station and overthrew the local government. The police abandoned their posts — and their weapons.

Mexico’s militarized police, even in small towns, often carry AR-15 assault rifles. Now those weapons were in the hands of the townspeople. “Then we started the rondas,” David said, referring to the armed citizen patrols.

The townspeople created a provisional government and banned political parties so that no candidate for public office would be beholden to outside political forces. They invented an electoral system to eliminate vote-buying and ballot-stuffing. All candidates for public office had to stand in the central square, with their supporters lining up behind them to determine who would win. Gangsters sent agents into the villages to burn cars and homes, and hunt down the guardabosques. In the course of the next three years, 18 of Cherán’s defenders, including Don Santiago’s brother, would be killed, and five more disappeared before the organized crime operations were shut down.

Cherán is a tidy little town that’s closed to outsiders. Heavily armed uniformed guards man checkpoints at every entrance and exit, questioning people whose faces or vehicles they don’t know. Hand-painted graffiti, in neat lettering, tells outsiders what the locals really think: “Leave us alone.”

To save face while recognizing reality, the Mexican government officially accepted Cherán’s new autonomous status. It deputized the checkpoint guards and guardabosques as the de facto authority to protect the forest lands. It issued them uniforms as “community police,” without attempting to take away or even register their newfound automatic weapons.

Federal police in shiny black twin-cab pickup trucks, wearing black tactical gear and armed with M4s and an occasional roll-bar-mounted machine gun, patrol the clean superhighways and the potholed back roads of rural Michoacán. The locals generally welcome the federales, sent in last year by President Enrique Peña Nieto to crush the cartels. The federales don’t interfere with Cherán’s guardabosques, and keep in contact with them by radio.

The checkpoint guards, young men in their late teens or early 20s, wear blue uniforms bearing embroidered seven-point stars and custom-made shoulder patches.

This is truly great investigative reporting, the kind we don’t often see any more.  I applaud the folks in this little corner of the world.  But will it last, and can it expand?

The article concludes with this. “Our whole way of life is in these forests,” said Don Santiago, the soft-spoken tribal elder. Tapping the resin from highland pines is a way of life, and an art, he inherited from ancestors who can be traced back to the Aztec empire. An individual pine tree can be tapped for up to 80 years for resin sold as raw material for industrial and food products.  “The pines have faces,” said Don Santiago, reflecting the mysticism of his people.”

Their way of life is tied up in the forest and protecting it’s health and viability.  But what if instead of cartel violence, they employ another strategy?  What if they get to several of the mothers and tell them, “We’re here to help you.  Here is a million dollars for each of you, take your family across the border, enroll you children in American schools and universities, and live a much better life than you could here?”  Will they break, or are they committed to a world view that can sustain them against the advances of their enemies, come what may?

At WRSA there is a salient question being posed concerning the American constitution and body of constitutional law.  It isn’t worth a duck’s fart, concludes the analysis, because it admits to, among other things, abortion on demand.  True enough, abortion is murder against the innocent, and whether you are a conservative Christian like me, or a committed libertarian (in which case abortion is unjustified aggression against an innocent party), a country that sacrifices its young won’t long last as a viable entity.

I’ll give you the premise of the article, as long as you give me the following stipulations.  The American constitution is the best that man has come up with so far, by a long ways, as long as you consider what John Adams said about it.  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Implemented by gargoyles, demons and bloodthirsty tyrants, the constitution is like the Book of Church Order for Presbyterians.  It becomes merely a system of protection of those in charge, regardless of what those in charge do.  It can be twisted to say anything you want as long as you see the world through the eyes of evil.  And thus we are back to world and life views.

My own views on this are fairly well known, and I have rehearsed them before.  The views of my teacher, John Calvin, are the very basis of the American war of independence.  Douglas Kelly, my former Systematic Theology Professor (along with C. Gregg Singer), observes the following.

Their experience in Presbyterian polity – with its doctrine of the headship of Christ over the church, the two-powers doctrine giving the church and state equal standing (so that the church’s power is not seen as flowing from the state), and the consequent right of the people to civil resistance in accordance with higher divine law – was a major ingredient in the development of the American approach to church-state relations and the underlying questions of law, authority, order and rights.

[ … ]

It was largely from the congregation polity of these New England puritans that there came the American concept and practice of government by covenant – that is to say: constitutional structure, limited by divine law and based on the consent of the people, with a lasting right in the people to resist tyranny.

When the rulers break covenant, as they did in the case above in Mexico, and as the King did against Americans, revolution is not only just, it is covenantally necessary.  Covenant, to be proper, has two parts: promises and curses, the later applied for breaking covenant.  These beliefs for me are, to use the words of philosopher Alvin Pantinga, incorrigible.  There is never a time when I will not believe these propositions.  Similarly, I don’t care one iota about the second amendment.  As I’ve explained before, my rights are issued by divine decree, not a piece of parchment.

I have come by these beliefs the hard way.  And I am concerned that the bases we claim for our liberties is founded in chaos, anarchy and whatever seems to be popular that particular day.  But these things will not sustain you and your family in difficult times.  Anarchy is the mother of tyranny because you aren’t the baddest person around.  There is always somebody badder than you are.  Into the void will always step a ruler more despotic than the last one.  Ideas that float away with the wind will tire and disappoint you.

The most significant revolutions in the history of Western civilization are the reformation and the American revolution, both of which have their basis in the protestant reformation (and Calvinian theology).  The Brothers of the Common Life taught the reformers everything – Luther was their student, and Calvin was deeply influenced by them.  These men taught the reformers logic, letters, languages, mathematics, and everything else they needed to develop a coherent and powerful world view.

The reformation didn’t proceed and finalize without bloodshed, and lots of it.  Swords were necessary, but the most important part was a world view that sustained the generations who fought this conflict on the European continent and on the British Ilse.  Similarly, the men who founded this nation believed things that sustained them and their families in spite of the horrible losses they suffered.

I am an educated man.  I hold an engineering degree – albeit Bachelor’s degree – from Clemson University.  Clemson isn’t among the top tier schools like RPI or Cal Tech (which is unquestionably the toughest engineering and physics school in the nation), but it’s up there with NC State, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, University of Texas, and so on.  I know fluid mechanics, strength of materials, statics and dynamics, differential equations, and so on.  And I’ve had all of their stupid liberal arts courses, from their revisionist history classes to the English course where the professor couldn’t go a single class without sexual innuendo or double entendre.  Oh, and don’t leave out that ridiculous sociology course where we studied everything from prostitution to poverty, all along the way rejecting the student’s demands that we solve these “problems” because we were just studying them, only to get to the issue of race in America with the professor starting the class that day with “How are we going to solve this problem?”  When I brought up the logical inconsistency with the class heretofore, I was savaged by the other students for being a prejudiced bigot.  A bigot I’m not, a lover of consistency I am.

If you think this is a discussion on how smart I am, you have it all backwards.  In my opinion I left college a dullard and ignoramus.  My real education began in graduate level seminary under Dr. C Gregg Singer, who assigned reading in Francis Turretin, “Institutes of Elenctic Theology.”  I was left on my own with Turretin to self-instruct, as with all graduate level courses.  It was my first introduction to the so-called scholastic writers.  I was overwhelmed and dumbfounded.

Reading through these volumes required lots of coffee, a hard back chair, and lots of time.  I got such severe headaches trying to study these volumes that it made my stomach upset.  I usually couldn’t get more than one or two sentences without having to stop and rehearse what I had read, how it related to the sentence before it, and ensure that I understood his points.  When I shared my experience with my colleagues, they had the same experiences I did with Turretin.  Mine wasn’t unique.

Horrace Mann has done his job well, yes?  I only home schooled my children their final years in High School (I wasted money on Christian education for much of their previous years), and I wish I had home schooled all four of them all twelve years.  The dumbing of the American child has been virtually complete, and combined with common core, the product of the public school system will be truly atrocious (and culpable to be manipulated).  At another time I will share a horrible school experience with one of my sons, but that is saved for later.

By all means, have your AR-15s.  Get your comms gear and learn how to use it.  I don’t begrudge learning how to conduct small unit combat maneuver warfare, patrolling techniques, perhaps satellite patrolling, make and break contact drills, carbine and handgun target acquisition drills, and so on.  I’m not sure that it will be used, but I am certain that any future conflict will be fought in the shadows (more on that later).

But more than AR-15s with optics, good handguns and lots of ammunition and comms gear, you need a world view.  You need an ideology that will sustain you through thick and thin, through life and until death.  I cannot tell you how to craft yours.  Most readers get annoyed or offended when I try to do that.  I know mine – it is incorrigible.  There are worse things than death.  I will meet God face to face one day, and death doesn’t mean that my body cools to ambient temperature and that’s the end.  I have been predistined to whatever God commands, and my life and death are in his hands.  Thus shall my world view honor Him and remain unchanged by the winds opinion.

What about your world and life view?

Prior: I Do Not Fear Terror Because I Am Redeemed, And I Have Been Predistined To This War

How Can A Christian Vote For Donald Trump?

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 1 week ago

There is an interesting comment left at PJM:

Matt Walsh is one of the best Christian bloggers out there. This is what he wrote on facebook today commenting on the election. Strong words, but they should be heard.

Trump won South Carolina, a supposedly conservative Christian state, by a wide margin tonight.

A few quick reactions:

– Don’t rationalize this. He didn’t win because of Democrats. The man won Evangelicals. The man who — JUST THIS WEEK — praised Planned Parenthood, and who fishes for applause lines by cussing out his competitors and mocking disabled people, and who can’t name a book in the Bible, and who said he doesn’t need forgiveness from God, and who brags about sleeping with married women, and who said he’d love to date his own daughter because she has a hot body, and who supported the murder of fully developed infant children, and who blatantly lies and then lies again about lying, and who has encapsulated literally the exact opposite of anything that could remotely be considered a “Christian value,” won with the indispensable assistance of Christians. The anger I feel towards those Christians in this moment cannot be put into words. They should be ashamed. I will pray for them.

– Speaking of winning conservatives, Trump — JUST THIS WEEK — said he likes the Obamacare mandate. This was, according to conservatives, the most important thing to defeat not but two years ago. Now some of those same conservatives are voting for a big government liberal who says he supports the very thing these very people were sure would undo the Republic just a few months ago.

– If Trump wins the nomination, conservatism in this country is officially dead, and the country itself will be close behind it.

– Speaking of the country’s demise, Trump fans are gleefully ushering in tyranny. I am tired of hearing about their “anger.” They claim they are angry at the very thing they now embrace. They aren’t angry. They’re bored. They’re immature. They’re infatuated with celebrity and fame and money.

I am not a Jeb Bush supporter (this comment was left on an article having to do with Bush).  I have openly supported Ted Cruz, but that doesn’t matter now.  It appears that no one can win the nomination except Donald Trump.  Christians have had a lot to do with his success.

My oldest son Josh works with someone who told him when asked why he was voting for Trump, “we need money and Trump knows how to get it!”  So much for the Southerners aren’t dumb hicks like you think they are meme.  This was why it was one time required that you be a head of household and land owner to vote.  Trump won South Carolina partly because of dumb people.

But the commenter is right.  The biggest part of Trump’s success in the S.C. primary had to do with winning the evangelical vote.  I have to hand it to Trump.  He knows how to perform a magic show.  It’s like the magician who shouts “Look here, Obamacare is a disaster …,” noise and flashing lights, and in the other hand he is hiding what he doesn’t want you to see, that he wants a single payer health care system just like Obama.  “Look here, A WALL, and it’s going to be big and beautiful and we’re going to get Mexico to pay for it …,” the people go wild, flashing lights, and in the other hand he holds the truth, that wall has a gigantic door through which they can all pass back in.  “I’ll tear down the system …” flashing lights, and in the other hand he holds the truth, he wants to meet with these people in the oval office and make deals.

Oh, on that last one, it isn’t hidden.  He said so.  Well, to be honest, he said so about the other two as well.  But the idiots didn’t see it for the flashing lights, or they didn’t want to see it because they are members of a religious cult.  But on the biggest one, “Look here, I think abortion is horrible …,” flashing lights, but I’m pro-choice and Planned Parenthood has good people and does good things.

It’s on this last one that the commenter has fixated, and for good reason.  I recall a time when we preached about abortion, and my family picketed the only abortion clinic in our city, and when Christians cared.  Trump has said that Planned Parenthood has good people and does good things.  Listen to me carefully.  Everyone working for Planned Parenthood is evil (or at a minimum, very naïve and deluded), the organization is evil, and it does not do good things.  Moreover, if you give money to any part of it, it’s just like giving money to the United Way.  You designate your giving, and they say “thank you very much,” and readjust and reallocate their dollars so that it all works out the way they wanted it to with the general funds anyway.

Planned Parenthood is a child of Margaret Sanger, a well-known eugenicist, and ideological follower of Adolf Hitler.  She was evil and now suffers in hell with Hitler (the only happy part of this sad story).  Christians who support Trump are supporting a man who unashamedly says that these people are good and do good things, and has given his money so that they can pimp eugenics.

But I don’t care about Trump.  This is the important part.  After hearing all of that, Christians still voted for him.  After searching my memory, my heart and my mind, I can come up with nothing more than the Christian church in America has lost its soul.  It one time cared about doctrine, theology, and good teaching.  At one time in history, theology and philosophy were heard from the pulpit (in the North it would have been from W.G.T. Shedd and Charles Hodge, in the South from James Henley Thornwell and R.L. Dabney).  At one time in history, the church wasn’t anemic.  But those times have long gone.  The Christian church in America may as well not exist.

I feel sorry for this loss – the loss of our scruples and values.  And before it is responded that Trump says he’s a Christian, and said of the Pope that it is disgraceful for a spiritual leader to question a person’s faith, or asks the question can someone’s behavior discredit a profession of faith?, I have some very direct words for you.

I am not a Roman Catholic and don’t believe in the so-called “Chair of Peter.”  No man is my intercessor except the God-man, Christ Jesus.  So I won’t waste my time addressing anything about the papacy.  Who can judge another man’s faith?  We can.  We all can.  We make functional judgments all day, every day.  If you are a Christian, you and your daughter decide whether the man she wants to marry is a Christian because of Paul’s command that husband and wife not be unequally yoked.  As for the words of Christ, you have heard them before: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? (Matt 7:16, NASB).  So far from being forbidden from making judgments, we are commanded to judge.  Otherwise, how would be prevent ourselves from being “unequally yoked” (and please, before you cite Matt 7:1, go do some homework and read a dozen or so commentaries so that you understand what you are talking about, and include in your analysis a consideration of John 7:24)).

Works are not necessary for salvation.  But in the order of salvation (ordo salutis), there is still the perseverance of the saints.  We won’t be perfect until we are with Him, we will be in constant need of refreshing and repentance, setting our gaze upon the one who perfected our salvation.  But we who are Christians are being changed more and more to be like Christ.  Works aren’t the cause, but are the evidence of our salvation.

And finally note that I included forgiveness in the list above.  I attended seminary.  But the things I am saying are basic, child like stuff, the work of children’s Sunday School teachers.  If you are a Christian, you know what I’m saying is true.  And if Donald Trump is speaking the truth, he is not a Christian, and yes, I can indeed make that judgment.

“I am not sure that I have” ever asked God for forgiveness, telling the 2015 Iowa Family Leadership Summit that “I just go on and try to do a better job from there.

“I don’t think so,” Trump, who is Presbyterian, said in response to the question from pollster and summit host Frank Luntz. Trump was among 10 Republican presidential candidates at the daylong event in Ames, Iowa.

“If I do something wrong, I think I just try to make it right,” Trump said. “I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.

Doing a better job of anything doesn’t cut it.  Our works are as filthy rags, adding only to our judgment on that last day.  Salvation is by grace, through faith, lest any man should boast.  Either Trump is telling the truth, in which he has never sought forgiveness and is trying to work his way to heaven and therefore is not a Christian, or he is lying, for what reason I don’t know, and to what benefit I cannot fathom.

And yet the saddest part of all of this is still that the American church is officially dead.  I confess that I hadn’t seen this much change in the last two or three decades.  Perhaps I wasn’t watching carefully enough.  It was stealthy enough that I missed the death entirely.

Jihadist Shooter Was Going To Target A Church

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 3 weeks ago

Via Uncle, this from Dearborn:

Khalil Abu-Rayyan, 21, was being watched by the feds since May 2015.

He was even having online conversations with an undercover FBI agent.

“I tried to shoot up a church one day,” Abu-Rayyan posted. “It’s one of the biggest ones in Detroit. I had it planned out. I bought a bunch of bullets. I practiced reloading and unloading.”

[ … ]

The complaint filed in federal court doesn’t specify which Detroit church he was allegedly planning to attack, only that it was close and could seat 6,000 members.

The complaint quotes Abu-Rayyan saying:

“It’s easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news. Everybody would’ve heard. Honestly I regret not doing it. If I can’t do jihad in the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here.”

I’m not surprised that this almost occurred in Dearborn, but it could have occurred anywhere.  Folks, I’ve covered it until I’m exhausted covering it.  Search my religion category for the details of pastors who hate their flocks and would rather see them perish than allow they to carry in worship.  Forget that the jihadist doesn’t understand what a church is (the church is the people, the building they meet in is just that – a building, not a church).

This jihadist understands this much.  When you attend a worship service, in most liturgies, even ones which are atypical, you are a sitting duck, you and your whole family.

You are sitting down, with people in front of you, people behind you, and people to the side of you.  Means of egress, evasion and escape are limited to non-existent.  The attention of most people is focused on the front, on one man or a choir, or in the singing of Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs, rather than on potential security threats.  This isn’t an argument for not going to worship.  This is an argument for going armed, with your head on a swivel.

And no, a few security people armed with BaoFeng UV-5R comms gear and acting ever so earnest cannot stop a shooter.  You need to carry in worship.  Please, please hear me when I say this.  You need to carry in worship.  If other people don’t, that heightens your responsibility.  If other people are preoccupied, you need to be extra diligent.  Please carry guns in worship.  And if this is disallowed, make your pastor understand, or do it anyway, or change churches.  It’s that important.

Pistol-Packin’ Christians

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

Texas Observer:

Christians, arm yourselves.

That, in a nutshell, is what Liberty University students heard from Jerry Falwell Jr., in the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino in December. Falwell — president of the evangelical Christian college and son of the late Moral Majority founder — told students, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” Adding that he was carrying a weapon in his pocket, he encouraged students to take Liberty’s concealed-carry training course.

[ … ]

Yet when it comes to linking lethal weapons to the “gospel of peace,” Falwell and Ramsey have nothing on Texas.

One pastor’s message to attendees of a 2012 Keller church conference went well beyond the suggestion that Christians consider gun ownership. “You can’t be a Christian if you don’t own a gun,” pastor Dr. Gary Cass told attendees at the Deliver Us From Evil Conference. “How can you protect yourself, your family, or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor, and I can’t protect him, what good am I?” While Cass told me recently that there is some hyperbole in these statements — in that gun ownership alone is not sufficient to guarantee salvation — he does believe that self-defense “is a God-given right and duty.”

Cass’ DefendChristians.org is based in California, but several Christian ministers here in the Lone Star State are singing from the same hymnal. Huntsville-area preacher Terry Holcomb Sr. is known for carrying his AR-15 Bushmaster rifle into local businesses as part of his campaign for open carry. Likewise, the Rev. James McAbee, pastor at Beaumont’s Lighthouse Worship Center, has earned the moniker “the pistol-packin’ preacher” for carrying his Glock in church and for offering teachers free handgun training. Last summer, McAbee told KLST-TV that “it’s very important that every church, pastor and all, have a gun.” And yet, as he explained to the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t want to hurt anybody. I believe the Bible teaches peace. But that doesn’t mean I should let them hurt me.”

The notion of pastors packing heat and encouraging their flocks to do likewise strikes many Texas Christians, myself included, as peculiar — even, well, un-Christian. After all, the core teachings of Jesus himself suggest a very different message.

Although his country was under oppressive Roman occupation, Jesus taught nonviolence — “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” — which is not exactly a forceful call to arms. Jesus also instructed his followers to love their enemies.

But, of course, the Bible is a big and complicated book. Some Christian gun advocates cite a puzzling passage in which Jesus tells his disciples that if they don’t have a sword, they should sell their cloak and buy one. In an email to me, Cass even cited this passage as evidence of a biblical right to self-defense. However, many biblical commentators, including the evangelical InterVarsity Press, interpret Jesus as referring to spiritual “swords,” not physical ones. Even when Jesus was arrested, and the disciples asked him if they should defend him with their (physical) swords, he told them no. Based on my studies as both a scholar and a Christian, I believe that if Jesus taught us anything, he taught us that the godly life is one of peace, nonviolence, and love.

[ … ]

… the Second Amendment enshrines what Aledo Christian conservative David Barton has called “the biblical right of self-defense.” The Second Amendment’s “ultimate goal,” Barton contends, “is to make sure you can defend yourself against any kind of illegal force that comes against you,” whether from a neighbor, an outsider, or “your own government.” However doubtful it is that the Founders wanted to allow rebellion against the very government they were creating, this “insurrectionist idea” is very popular in Christian Americanist circles.

Oh good.  Yet another derogatory phrase for Christians who believe in living according to the Bible: “Christian Americanist.”  So this makes twice I’ve heard the author, David Brockman, claim that he is a scholar.  But if you’re going to make that claim, you have to live up to the hype.  Frankly, Brockman fails miserably.

Why is the passage about Jesus telling his disciples to get swords puzzling?  I thought Brockman was a scholar.  In fact, first of all Jesus told his disciples to find swords for self defense (the command is placed in context of having a purse and bag which they didn’t previously have, and being self sufficient in the absence of Jesus who was soon to give His life for His people).  Second, the command sets up the disciples to rely on God’s mercy and grace.  It was against Roman law for anyone but Roman soldiers to have weapons, and Jesus was commanding that they break Roman law.  Finally, this command sets up Peter for good instruction when he slices the ear off one of the Roman soldiers (referred to later by Brockman).  Jesus explained to Peter that His kingdom wouldn’t grow by the power of the sword (contra false religions like Islam).  Jesus had to die and be raised again for His people, and Peter was getting in the way.

Brockman – if he is the scholar he claims he is – should know all of this.  He should also know that the founders set up a system that was intended to be curtailed by the power of weapons, for that is exactly what they did.  They curtailed the power of tyrants in England, and were it not for weapons, there would have been no victory.

But the biggest failure is Brockman’s ignorance concerning the case for biblical self defense.  I’ve explained it before.

I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying.  As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue.  Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.

God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless.  “Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.”  I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.

And concerning John Calvin’s comments on this subject:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

Far from a mere right, it is a duty.  Forsaking this duty is equivalent to turning over Brockman’s own children to criminals, rapists, thieves and abusers.  God isn’t impressed with Brockman’s fake morality, a morality that pretends Jesus is a bohemian hippie flower child.  And I don’t think Brockman is the scholar he thinks he is.


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